Employees' behavioral reactions to supervisor aggression: an examination of individual and situational factors

J Appl Psychol. 2012 Nov;97(6):1148-1170. doi: 10.1037/a0029452. Epub 2012 Jul 30.


This research examines employees' behavioral reactions to perceived supervisor aggression. The goal is to understand what makes employees react constructively or destructively to aggression. Three types of behavioral reactions are investigated: retaliation, coworker displaced aggression, and problem solving. We suggest employee reactions are influenced by individual and situational characteristics. We test these ideas by examining the moderating effects of 1 individual factor (locus of control) and 2 situational factors (fear of retaliation and behavioral modeling) on the relationships between perceived supervisor aggression and employee behaviors. The results of an experiment and 2 field studies provide support for the predictions and some unexpected findings. Implications for understanding reactions to perceived supervisor aggression are presented.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Perception
  • Young Adult